Nicole Haase. 9th October, 2008 - 1:55 pm
Packers' GM Ted Thompson stood behind Aaron Rodgers and his decision that Rodgers was the Packers' starter despite all the Favre drama, negative press, and upset fans.
But has Thompson done everything he should have in order to help Rodger succeed?
Sure, Rodgers has had all the vocal support of Thompson and Coach Mike McCarthy can provide in the media, but it?s becoming increasingly clear that Thompson has not provided the tools Rodgers will need to succeed.
The Packers are operating at close to $20 million under the salary cap this season. Despite all that cap room, Ted Thompson is fielding the league?s youngest team for the third straight season. Based on Kickoff Weekend rosters, the Packers' average age for 2008 is 25.57 years. That?s down from last year?s average age of 25.72. On opening weekend in 2006, the Packers and Titans were tied for youngest, once again averaging at 25.57.
While many teams chose to keep experienced veterans to cover the 2 and 3 positions on their depth chart, the Packers have kept it young this season. With the exception of LB Brandon Chillar (5 years) and DT Collin Cole (4 years), plus the odd situation that has Kabeer Gbaja-Biamilia as second string, there isn?t anyone listed at second or third string on the Packers' defensive depth chart who?s further along than their 3rd NFL season.
The Packers? 11 backups on defense have an average of 2.5 years experience and are 24.3 years old.
On the offensive side of the ball, the second and third strings on the depth chart feature seven rookies and no one further along than their 3rd NFL season.
The choice to have nothing but inexperienced backups has come back to bite the Packers as starter after starter has gone down injured. The defense, especially, has been affected by this decision, and that core just got even younger. It seems Sunday?s game wasn?t a wake-up call nor did it change Thompson?s course - the Packers released six-year LB Tracy White, the longest tenured backup the team had, in favor of rookie Danny Lansanah.
However, can we blame Thompson for not wanting to sink money into guys he?s not sure he can get an investment on?
Considering the guy on our roster with the highest base salary ($6.15 million ) and highest salary cap number ($7.727 million) is KGB, who, let?s face it, is barely earning league minimum, much less his huge contract, it?s possible to understand Thompson?s motivation in not sinking money into older players.
After only playing part-time last season, KGB?s been almost a complete non-factor this season. The Packers? sack leader has just a ? sack this season ? on all-but-a-statue Jon Kitna ? which happened in week 2. Since then, he hasn?t come close enough to a quarterback to discern their eye color, much less register a sack. He played just 9 snaps against Dallas and 13 snaps against Atlanta.
That being said, if that?s your leader on defense, you?re going to have a long season.
Between KGB?s injury and subsequent dwindling stats and playing time and the loss of Corey Williams, shouldn?t Thompson have done something to fortify a defense that was the surprise of last season?s team?
If Thompson?s reputation wasn?t as on the line as Rodgers? is, it would be tempting to start conspiracy theories and call foul.
Since it?s unlikely that Thompson?s sabotaging his own career, much less that of his young and highly scrutinized QB, we?re left to ponder why Thompson doesn?t seem to have put this team and Rodgers in the best position to succeed. It?s a topic that should probably be revisited every few weeks this season.
It?s a shame that Aaron Rodgers gave the Packers and their fans all he had on Sunday. It certainly didn?t seem like anyone else connected with the team did.
The Packers will take a streak of 10 straight quarters without a sack into Sunday?s game at Seattle. That?s upsetting enough, but add to the sackless play the fact that the defense registered just one hit on Falcons' QB Matt Ryan and made just one big play ? a Tremon Williams' interception in the endzone.
"We didn't do anything ? besides that interception ? to really help the team win," cornerback Charles Woodson said.
"I'm not going to make excuses for our defense. We're all professionals in here. You're (supposed to be) able to play at this level."